McGeorge School of Law

Academic Support Services

Directed Study Program

Prior to the second year of law school, students whose grades indicate they would benefit from more intensive skills instruction will be placed in the Directed Study Program. This Program is designed to help students reach their full potential in law school through a continuum of academic support and counseling, as well as introduce them to the skills necessary to pass the bar exam on the first attempt.

Directed Study Program students first take the Principles of Legal Analysis II course in the fall semester of their second year. This one (1)-unit, graded class reviews skills learned in the first year and introduces students to skills necessary for success in upper-level law school courses and on the bar exam.

In either the fall or spring of their final year at McGeorge, Directed Study Program students are required to take Practical Analysis, Strategies, & Skills I (PASS I). PASS I is a two-unit, 10-week, pass/fail course focused on the essay and MBE components of the California Bar Exam. PASS I students complete substantial writing practice and receive extensive individualized feedback on their answers. Although Directed Study Program students are required to take PASS I for graduation, this course is open to all McGeorge students in their final year of study. PASS II is a complementary, one-unit elective course that prepares students for the performance test portion of the bar exam. All McGeorge students are strongly encouraged to enroll in the fall or spring semester of their final year, and the courses are designed so that students may take both PASS I and PASS II in the same semester.

Students in the Directed Study Program also have other required courses and will meet regularly with the Dean of Students to discuss their academic scheduling and progress. Additionally, the Director of Academic Support is available to meet with any McGeorge student or graduate seeking to improve his or her study skills and exam performance.

Individual Counseling

Professor Thompson is available to meet with and counsel students at any time regarding study techniques, time management, supplemental materials, study groups, and other matters related to academic progress. Also available to all students throughout the year is the Academic Support Resource Center. Skills TAs also are available by appointment outside of their scheduled office hours.

Practice Examinations

The primary methods of measuring progress in law school are essay and multiple choice exams. Both formats require students to apply the law to new fact scenarios by analyzing how the facts might support good arguments for each side. This process is preparation for typical state bar examinations and the practice of law, where hypothetical fact patterns become real client problems.

Because many students' undergraduate programs used different methods of assessment, first-year students receive an extra unit of skills work tied to one of their substantive courses. In this course, students complete various formative assessment exercises and receive feedback on their efforts and progress to help them reach their full potential in law school.

Additionally, most professors release past essay exams so that students may write practice exams on their own, often meeting individually with professors to discuss their answers. This individual writing practice is key to student success in law school. Past exams are available on the Go-Cat system in the Gordon D. Schaber Law Library, and students are encouraged to download these exams and compile their own practice exam libraries. Exams also are available in hard copy format at the Reserve Desk in the Library.


Stephanie Thompson, Professor of Lawyering Skills, Acting Director of Academic Support
Email | 916.739.7322